News
University of Detroit Mercy Expands Resources for First-Generation Students

September 4, 2015 — The University of Detroit Mercy is making a big effort to help get more first-generation students through college. These students, the first in their family to attend college, make up one-fourth of UDM's freshman class and will have access to resources to help them succeed.

“Our first-gen students at UDM are incredible,” said Mary-Catherine Harrison, associate professor of English and director of the university’s Academic Exploration Program. “They are risk-takers. In many cases, they are the first person in their entire extended family to go to college.”

Rafael Cruz, a professional mentor in UDM’s student success center, was one such student. “I wasn’t just doing this for myself anymore,” he said. “I was carrying my neighbors on my back, my family on my back.” Faced with the high expectations of his community, Cruz was extremely stressed, and when things didn’t go smoothly, he felt it even more acutely.

First-generation students don’t have the same built-in network of college grads that continuing-generation students have, and they have to manage the transition to college without a parent guiding the way, said Harrison. “It can be overwhelming navigating the complexities of college life: How do you talk to professors? How do you figure out financial aid? What is the right major?”


To provide extra support, the UDM program will pair staff and faculty with first-generation freshmen in both formal and informal situations where some of those questions can be answered. They will have access to individualized academic coaching from university professionals and upperclassmen, tutoring, and assistance with financial aid literacy. They will also participate in the university’s First-Year Experience program, which includes monthly workshops about the transition to college, service learning opportunities and leadership development.

Additionally, UDM has received a new five-year, $1.1-million Student Support Services grant from the U.S. Department of Education, part of a federal grant program aimed at helping first-generation and low-income students.

Joe Eisenhauer, dean of UDM’s business school, was also the first in his family to go to college. He recalled receiving brochures in the mail from private colleges and his father telling him not to consider them as the family couldn’t afford those schools. After Eisenhauer mentioned that there were grants and loans to help with the cost, his father said Eisenhauer could attend if he paid for it himself.

“My education has been an investment that has paid for itself many times over,” Eisenhauer said. “You can’t let yourself be intimated by the unfamiliar. You just have to keep asking questions.”

All the videos are available at www.udmercy.edu/x/firstgen. Follow the initiative on Facebook and Twitter. [Source: Detroit Free Press]





Recent News

October 21, 2019 — Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Fr. Edward J. Mattimoe, SJ, who died on October 20, 2019, at Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Michigan. He was 85 years old. May he rest in peace.

October 16, 2019 - Having converted to Catholicism when I was 17, I had toyed with the idea of the priesthood and religious life for some years, but my discernment had grown much more serious of late. And while my attraction to the priesthood was sincere, so was my aversion to being a parish priest. I enjoyed academics, and I wanted to teach.

October 15, 2019 — Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Fr. John V. White, SJ, who died on October 12, 2019, at Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Michigan. He was 90 years old. May he rest in peace.

October 10, 2019 — Jesuits urge Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan to promote moral and ethical treatment of migrants.

October 11, 2019 — Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life Fr. Raymond C. Baumhart, SJ, who died on October 10, 2019, at Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Michigan. He was 95 years old. May he rest in peace.

view all news

Search news

Publications

Jesuits Summer 2019

Jesuits Spring 2019

Jesuits Fall/Winter 2018



Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House
Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House is located on 80 acres of gently rolling meadows and wooded countryside just 40 miles northwest of Chicago.